Tuesday, October 21, 2014

World's largest ship so big it can lift an oil rig takes to the seas link

 'Pieter Schelte', largest lifting vessel in the world

From DailyMail by Jonathan O'Callaghan

The biggest vessel in the world has been built by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering in South Korea
Swiss company Allseas commissioned the building of the huge £1.9 billion ($3.1 billion) ship
Called Pieter Schelte, the vessel is almost as long as the Empire State Building and wide as Big Ben's Elizabeth tower
The vehicle will be used to pick up and move oil rigs from one place to another, such as to and from port
Both the legs and main structure of a rig can be carried on the ship and moved simultaneously
It can reach speeds of 14 knots (16.1 mph or 25.9 km/h) and hold a crew of 571 people
Allseas says it will enter offshore operations next year - but an even bigger ship will be built by 2020

The vessel that now holds the title of the world’s biggest ship has taken to the seas for the first time.
Called Pieter Schelte, the behemoth can lift oil rigs right out of the water and move them to new destinations.
It measures a staggering 1,253ft (382 metres) long and 407ft (124 metres) wide, making it almost as long as the Empire State Building is tall and wider than the height of Big Ben.

The biggest vessel in the world has been built by Daewoo in South Korea. Swiss company Allseas commissioned the building of the huge $1.7bn ship.
Both the legs and main structure of a rig can be moved simultaneously

It cost £1.9 billion ($3.1 billion) to build and is powered by 11.2 megawatt engines connected to 13 Rolls Royce 5.5 megawatt thrusters, reports Gizmodo.
Topsides - the upper section of oil rigs - weighing up to 48,000 tons can be lifted by the behemoth, while it will also be able to lift jackets - the legs - of rigs weighing up to 25,000 tonnes.
The ship can then transport both the top and bottom sections of the oil rig simultaneously and take it back to port.
It can even raise and lower itself in the water by 82ft (25 metres) in order to cope with the huge weight demands of moving an oil rig.

Pieter Shelte, which will be operated by Swiss company Allseas, is expected to begin offshore operations next year.
It can reach speeds of 14 knots (16.1 mph or 25.9 km/h) and has space for a crew of 571 people.
When it enters operation it will also be the world's largest pipelaying ship and will be used to construct infrastructure under the sea.
Its pipelay capacity of 2,000 tonnes is double that of the previous record holder, another Allseas ship called Solitaire.
Pieter Shelte will only hold the title of the world’s biggest ship for six years, though; by 2020 Allseas expects to have an even larger vessel in operation to install and move bigger oil rigs.
The Maersk Triple-E also built by Daewoo Shipbuilding still holds the record for the longest ship, though, at 1,312 feet (400 metres).

Called Pieter Schelte (shown) it is almost as big as the Empire State Building.
It will be used to pick up and move oil rigs from one place to another.
It can reach speeds of 14 knots and hold a crew of 571 people.
Allseas says it will enter offshore operations next year.
It measures a staggering 1,253 feet (382 metres) long and 407ft (124 metres) wide, making it almost as long as the Empire State Building is tall and wider than the height of Big Ben.


Monday, October 20, 2014

When island nations drown, who owns their seas? link

Thanks to the way the UN defines coastal waters, small island nations control swaths of ocean that can greatly exceed their land area.
Above, a map of maritime boundaries, or “exclusive economic zones,” claimed in the Pacific, based on data published by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
Some zones are disputed or shared.
courtesy of David Butler, Globe staff

From Boston Globe by Latif Nasser

Over the past several years, it’s become clear that one of the starkest potential effects of climate change is the existential threat that rising oceans pose to the world’s low-lying island nations.

The president of the Pacific atoll nation of Kiribati, which averages only about 2 meters above sea level, has already spent millions of dollars to buy land in Fiji as a potential new home for his 100,000 people.
As sea levels rise, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests, large ocean waves will increasingly taint the country’s groundwater and threaten its agriculture; Kiribati can expect to become at least partly uninhabitable long before seas rise enough to submerge it.
Other island nations like the Maldives and Tuvalu face the same plight.

So far, the world’s attention has rightly focused on how much these places have to lose: their homes, their communities, their cultures, their vistas.
But these countries have another, less visible set of assets at stake as they consider their survival—assets that won’t necessarily be lost, but which raise substantial questions.
These are their large and valuable maritime zones.

Kiribati, like other island nations, controls hundreds of thousands of square miles of the ocean that surrounds it. Kiribati’s land area is about that of Kansas City, while the ocean territory it controls is larger than India.
Within these “exclusive economic zones,” to use the UN term, island nations possess the power to regulate, tax, or disallow any economic activity, including mining or drilling for oil.
The tuna fishing alone in the domain of Pacific island nations is worth an estimated $4 billion a year.

What will become of these gigantic ocean posessions when the tiny patches of land that anchor them disappear or become unlivable?
The prospect is an unprecedented puzzle for the international community.

But the question is more than a novelty: It may also be a chance to find a solution for the crises the islands face.
A set of legal scholars from around the world has started to propose new ways to conceive of these ocean rights, so that if and when the islanders are forced to move, their economic domains might still survive as a national asset.
Much hangs on how this question is settled: the islanders’ livelihoods, our oceans’ health, and, of course, the future of your spicy tuna hand roll.

 Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak raised the height of a seawall around his home following tidal floods last year.
He says it it is barely enough to protect his family from a "climate emergency."

Island nations like Kiribati gained control over their surrounding oceans under the UN Law of the Sea, adopted in 1982, back when the prospect of a drowning nation seemed far-fetched.
The law granted every country with a coastline economic domain over water 200 nautical miles (230 miles) off its shore, a descendant of the 17th-century “cannon-shot rule,” which gave nations authority over as much water as they could defend with coastal artillery.

These substantial economic rights belong to inhabitable islands, but generally not to—to use the technical term—rocks.
The UN has strict criteria to tell one from the other.
An island must be “naturally formed” and higher than high tide; part or whole of a nation recognized by other nations; and a place that can “sustain human habitation or economic life of [its] own.”
If it doesn’t meet those criteria, it is a rock, and doesn’t merit territorial rights.

Relabeling along these lines has happened in recent history—in 1997, a remote outpost of the United Kingdom called Rockall was downgraded from island to rock.
In that case, 60,000 square nautical miles of ocean that belonged to the United Kingdom reverted to international waters, what the United Nations calls the “high seas,” where no single country has official jurisdiction.

The United Kingdom had no problem giving up this little patch of ocean; it’s a wealthy country that possesses larger island territories elsewhere.
When it comes to nations like Kiribati and Tuvalu, however, the patch of ocean largely is the country. Tuvalu’s ocean-to-land ratio is 34,600 to 1.
It would be more accurate to think of them not as small island states with a claim on the ocean, but rather as gigantic ocean states with a patch of land in the middle.

 The president and ministers of the Maldives held the world's first underwater cabinet meeting in 2009 to highlight the threats of rising seas.

In the decades to come, many low-lying nations will start to look more like uninhabitable rocks. Wave “over-wash” will degrade the fragile lens of fresh groundwater, leaving residents dependent on rain or imported bottled water.
The warming ocean will result in degradation and bleaching of reef ecosystems that protect the islands from erosion.
The elevating sea level—rising as much as a meter by 2100, according to last year’s IPCC report—may inundate the lowest-lying islands of archipelagos such as the Maldives (average elevation 1.6 meters), Tuvalu (1.83 meters), Kiribati (1.98 meters), and the Marshall Islands (2.13 meters).

If these islands do become rocks, the question of their maritime holdings is more complex than that of Rockall.
Unlike Rockall, they’re inhabited and have their own seats at the United Nations; they also draw a significant portion of their gross domestic product from those ocean rights.
According to the UN’s International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, “In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.”

As long ago as 1990, a scattering of international law scholars began to imagine approaches to the problem, including ones that might even help threatened nations with their resettlement efforts.

One early proposal from Fred Soons of the Utrecht University School of Law is a solution that is part physical and part legal.
Soons assumes that the islands’ adaptation efforts will include man-made barriers, and perhaps in the long run, even more ambitious efforts that amount to artificial islets.
In that case, he suggests broadening the legal definition of “naturally formed” islands to include such land-preservation efforts.
In other words, so long as an island was initially natural, Soons believes it ought to count as an island, even if it later becomes enhanced—and even potentially supplanted—by artificial components. (Soons points to the example of Okinotorishima, a remote atoll that Japan has spent more than $700 million to protect with steel blocks and concrete embankments, though its claim to islandhood—and the surrounding ocean—remains contested by neighbors.)
Even Soons himself doesn’t see this as a permanent solution, however: Artificial barriers simply delay the inevitable, and the price tags for buttressed or artificial islands are, to use the IPCC’s words from 2007, “well beyond the financial means of most small island states.”

Other legal scholars have focused on ways that the maritime territory can be preserved as a national asset even if the people leave.
Several, including UC Berkeley School of Law’s David Caron, have observed that changing sea boundaries aren’t just a problem for islands: The rising ocean promises to redraw every coastline on the map. Instead of constantly updating maps every time a beach is submerged, they suggest, why not freeze the boundaries in place?
For low-lying islands, this would mean that the sea as currently measured around Kiribati would become the permanent patrimony of its people—and wherever in exile they end up, the population would continue to receive royalties from its former coastal waters.

Rosemary Rayfuse of the University of New South Wales in Australia takes a different route to a similar outcome. “An equitable and fair solution,” she writes in a 2013 anthology documenting a Columbia University conference on Threatened Island Nations, “would be the recognition in international law of a new category of State, ‘the deterritorialized state.’”
Rayfuse argues that the creation of such a category would enable island nations—even if they lost their land—to keep both their nationhood and their maritime zones, despite not having a piece of land to call home. Remarkably, such a landless state does exist today.
The Knights of Malta (not to be confused with the country of Malta) are a 900-year-old lay Catholic order who today have no land, but do have a nonvoting seat at the United Nations.
Their example, Rayfuse suggests, provides a seamless way to incorporate submerged nations into the international community.

The main hitch to both of these plans—frozen baselines and deterritorialized states—is that they depend on international legislation, which is notoriously slow and unwieldy.
The UN Law of the Sea’s amendment procedure, for instance, has never been used.
Nor does it help that the island nations have little geopolitical clout.
Rayfuse noted in 2013 that “freezing baselines does not appear to be high on the international agenda at the moment.”

There’s a final strategy for these island nations to be able to keep their maritime zones, a strategy that doesn’t depend on sea walls or international legislation.
Rayfuse called it “the most straightforward and appealing solution” to the maritime zone dilemma. If each island nation can find a friendly neighboring nation willing to sell it some territory, it can move to that territory and continue to operate its preexisting maritime zones, so long as any part of the island is still above water.
Kiribati’s president announced earlier this year that at Fiji’s invitation, his country had purchased land from the Anglican Church on Fiji’s second-largest island as part of an effort to migrate with dignity.

 Residents sat on a wall facing the harbor of Fiji's capital of Suva.
Kiribati's president has bought land to resettle his people on the nearby Fijian island of Vanua Levu.

A major catch with this strategy is that few countries are willing to swallow whole another country, and those that are often want something for themselves out of the deal.
In 2001, when Tuvalu approached Australia and New Zealand for some land, Australia rejected the deal out of hand. New Zealand agreed to host only those Tuvaluans who were under 45, spoke English, and had a job offer in New Zealand—requirements that excluded approximately 9,000 of the 11,000-person country.
Even Kiribati’s recent land deal has come under suspicion; Atlantic reporter Christopher Pala visited the plot of Fijian land that Kiribati bought for $8.7 million, and found that the land was too small to feed or house Kiribati’s population, and that in fact, the land was already inhabited.

If they cannot find deals on better terms, these island nations may have to merge with neighboring nations, using their valuable maritime rights as a bargaining chip.
In effect, it would be a flat-out trade: asylum for control of the maritime zones.

EACH OF THESE strategies—redefining “natural,” freezing maritime zones, creating deterritorialized states—amounts to a kind of thought experiment, a radical tweak to our idea of how fixed nations are and should be.

It’s not clear when islanders will need to turn these thought experiments into real-world legal strategies.
Some geoscientists project that coral reefs supporting atoll islands will grow along with rising seas, meaning that only those living close to shore will lose their homes; parts of the atolls may actually rise as other parts sink.
Other researchers claim that regular flooding, food insecurity, and lack of fresh water will render the islands uninhabitable sooner rather than later.
Whatever the timeline, as Rayfuse put it in an e-mail, “there is a presumption of the continuity of states, and the international community will deal with the issue of disappearance if and when it happens.”

At the moment, the value of their maritime assets seems to be going up: The United States recently purchased its 2015 tuna fishing rights from a collective of Pacific island nations for $90 million dollars, up from the $21 million it paid in 2009.
There’s also more than money at stake—by law, islands can use their control of the zones to enact environmental standards, though they are too small and resource-strapped to enforce them without help.

For now, the island nations face the first and most basic step to securing their maritime zones: mapping them.
To chart out existing ocean borders now would shore up their claims as their outlying islands become uninhabitable and their zones begin to shrink.
Even this is far from trivial: An exact surveying effort involves extrapolating outer limits from base-point coordinates on shore, negotiating any overlaps with neighboring countries, and then formally depositing them with the United Nations in New York, a project beyond the technological and financial capacities of most island countries.

Blaise Kuemlangan, who works for the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization and encourages Pacific Island nations to map their boundaries, expects that—unless the countries themselves or the international community make a special effort now—mapping will not be completed for at least another 20 years.
By then, these islands will most likely still be inhabited.
But they’ll need, even more urgently, to understand exactly what they have to trade for their future.

Links :


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Around the world in a beach cat by Yvan Bourgnon link

long version (in French)
 Yvan Bourgnon and his attempt to sail around the world in a beach cat.

 "My challenge is to realize the first circum navigation with a sailing boat without cabin, GPS,  assistance and weather forecast."


Saturday, October 18, 2014

'In the heart of the sea' trailer pits Thor against Moby Dick link

From HuffingtonPost

If you ever wondered how Herman Melville's "Moby Dick" came to be, Ron Howard has made your perfect movie.
"In The Heart Of The Sea," based on Nathaniel Philbrick's book about traveling to the Essex, tells the the story of the real-life maritime disaster that inspired "Moby Dick."
Howard follows the crew in 1820 as they sail from Nantucket to the South Pacific and encounter the infamous 80-foot sperm whale.
Per Warner Bros., "The ship’s surviving crew is pushed to their limits and forced to do the unthinkable to stay alive.
Braving storms, starvation, panic and despair, the men will call into question their deepest beliefs, from the value of their lives to the morality of their trade, as their captain searches for direction on the open sea and his first mate still seeks to bring the great whale down."

Almost 60 years ago, the most famous adaptation was the John Huston 1956 film with Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab :


Friday, October 17, 2014

Swimming through garbage link

The author swimming over the Aqaba Marine Protected Area in the Red Sea. 
photo : Kelvin Trautman 

From NY Times by Lewis Pugh

You get a good feel for the health of the oceans when you stick your head in them for four weeks. This summer, I swam long distances in the Seven Seas: the Mediterranean, Adriatic, Aegean, Black, Red, Arabian and North Seas.
The longest swim was 37 miles and took me two days.
The swims were intended to draw attention to the health of the oceans.
But I seriously underestimated the urgency of the issue I was swimming for.
As the United Nations Patron of the Oceans, I have given many speeches stressing the need to protect our environment for the sake of our children and grandchildren.
I now realize it’s not about our children.
It’s about us.
And the situation is much worse than I thought.
I was shocked by what I saw in the seas, and by what I didn’t see.
I saw no sharks, no whales, no dolphins.
I saw no fish longer than 11 inches.
The larger ones had all been fished out.
When I swam in the Aegean, the sea floor was covered with litter; I saw tires and plastic bags, bottles, cans, shoes and clothing.

 And a little more than a mile away, outside of the marine protected area. 
Credit Kelvin Trautman 

The Black Sea was full of Mnemiopsis, a rapidly reproducing species of jellyfish.
This species is not native; it was brought in with the ballast on visiting ships, and has wrought havoc on the ecosystem.
As I was about to jump into the Red Sea, I asked the boat’s skipper whether I should keep a lookout for sharks. He told me not to worry — they’re long gone.
Well, that’s exactly what does worry me.
An estimated 100 million sharks are fished out of the world’s oceans every year.
That’s like removing the lions from the Serengeti.
It wouldn’t be long before the gazelles, zebras and wildebeests had multiplied and eaten all the grass.
And when the land was laid bare the grazers would starve.
Predators are crucial for a healthy ecosystem, be it on land or in the water.

 Lewis Pugh - Ordinary Won't Change the World
He was the first person to complete a long distance swim in every ocean of the world.
He was the first to undertake a swim across the icy waters of the North Pole and the first to swim across a glacial lake on Mt Everest.
In a career spanning 27 years the maritime lawyer has pioneered more swims around famous landmarks than any other swimmer in history.
I’m 44 years old.
I like to think I’m only halfway through my life.
That’s hardly a comforting thought, though, when I imagine the changes in the oceans in the first half of my life continuing into the second.
World population is expected to grow from seven billion to nine billion.
As developing countries become developed, they will demand more resources like fuel, fresh water and food.
Much of that food is expected to come from our oceans.
And they simply don’t have the capacity to provide it anymore.

A priest who traveled to the New World with Christopher Columbus described in his diaries the turtles they encountered.
“The sea was all thick with them,” he wrote, “so numerous that it seemed the ships would run aground on them.”
We have forgotten what our seas used to look like.
Many species are now on the brink of extinction, from the Mediterranean monk seal to the hawksbill turtle in the Arabian Sea.

 Lewis Pugh talks about the methods he uses to undertake swims, which were deemed “impossible” – choosing the right team, meticulous preparation, the right mind-set, never quitting, and changing when circumstances dictate.
Most of all, he talks about having a driving purpose, which for him is to protect our oceans.

In 2005, I swam in the Southern Ocean, just off Antarctica. It was cold — very cold — when I swam over a graveyard of whale bones near an old whaling factory.
As far as I could see, there were bleached white bones piled up on the seafloor.
Man hunted whales almost to the point of extinction, not seeming to care that we could lose one of the wonders of the sea forever.
It is the coldness of the water that preserves the bones and makes it look as if they were left there yesterday, but I like to think they are there as a reminder of man’s potential for folly.

Fortunately, in 1986 most countries ceased commercial whaling, and some whale populations have made a spectacular recovery.
Whales like the Southern right were brought back from the brink of extinction.
Their numbers are now increasing 7 percent year after year. If we can do it with one species, surely we can do it for entire ecosystems.
We just need to give them the space to recover.
Marine protected areas, which are like national parks for the seas, are the best way to make that happen. 
In the Red Sea, I saw no coral and no fish.
It looked like an underwater desert.
But then, a little more than a mile later, I swam into a protected area, where fishing had been restricted.
It was a sea as it was meant to be: rich and colorful and teeming with abundant life.

We need far more of these protected areas.
They allow the habitat to recover from overfishing and pollution, which helps fish stocks recover.
When we create them, we protect the coral, which protects the shoreline and provides shelter for fish.
They become places people want to visit for ecotourism.
They are good for the world economy, for the health of the oceans, for every person living on this planet.
This year in the Aegean I swam over tires and trash.
In a few years, I hope to return, and swim over thriving coral reefs.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Lost Louisiana: the race to reclaim vanished land back from the sea link

From The Guardian by Suzanne Goldenberg

World’s fastest submerging state is looking to nature in an ambitious plan to turn back the tide, and to BP to fund it – but will it work?

The GPS showed David Morgan still on dry land – but the waves bumping beneath his boat revealed the reality of this lost Louisiana landscape.
Rising seas have obliterated 30 points on the map in the last three years at Plaquemines Parish where Morgan lives.

Sugarcane fields, citrus groves, backwoods – all gone.
“This was all land here when I was a kid. There was no water anywhere,” said Morgan, 57, slowing the boat to pass oyster beds. “I used to hunt rabbits there with my dog,” he said.

 Brown pelicans in the fast submerging mangroves on Cat Island, a former nesting ground which has mostly eroded into the Barataria Bay in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana.
Photograph: Julie Dermansky/Corbis

Louisiana is losing land to the sea faster than anywhere else in the world.
But the authorities say they have a plan to turn back the seas – and get BP to pay a substantial share of the $50bn (£31bn) cost out of criminal penalties from the blowout of its well in the Gulf of Mexico.
The plan includes proposals for more than 100 engineering projects along the coastline, diverting the Mississippi, dumping fresh sand on barrier islands, and re-planting degraded wetlands to reinforce the coast.
The state’s computer forecast shows that, if all the projects come in on time, by 2060 Louisiana could start regaining land.
The big question is: will it work?

Dead mangrove at Cat Island and Bay Jimmy in Plaquemines Parish 
Photograph: Gerald Herbert/AP

Officials say the ambitious plan is the best hope yet for saving the coast. Louisiana has lost nearly 1,900 square miles of land over the past 80 years – a disappearing act that claims on average a football field an hour.
In Plaquemines Parish, the remaining land looks moth-eaten, chewed up by oil industry canals and the incoming waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Left unchecked, the state is projected to lose an additional 1,750 sq m in the next 50 years.
The land began vanishing from southern Louisiana about 80 years ago when the authorities began penning in the Mississippi after catastrophic floods.
The system of levees cut off the river from the delta, choking off the sediment needed to shore up the coast.
A decade later, oil drilling took off in coastal areas of Louisiana. Industry canals tore up the coastal wetlands.
Rising seas under climate change accelerated the land loss, exposing New Orleans and the valuable oil, shipping and seafood industries on the coast to hurricanes and storm surge.

Sea level rise is now the leading cause of land loss, said Virginia Burkett, chief scientist for climate and land use change at the US Geological Survey, leading a recent tour of the restoration projects organised by the Society of Environmental Journalists.
“If sea level rise doubles as we expect over the next century, can you imagine what is going to happen to this landscape?” she asked.
“Without the barrier islands and marshes to attenuate the storm surge, the people of New Orleans are basically surrounded by an earthen levee.”
Even the state’s Republican governor, Bobby Jindal, who publicly downplays the dangers of climate change, has committed to the plan to hold back the seas.
Local politicians have also signed on.
“This is how we are going to save Louisiana. It is doable,” said Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish.
“I think we can realistically put back what we had 25 or 30 years ago.”
However, the engineering projects are prohibitively expensive.
Congress has refused to fund the $50bn and private estimates for the engineering works range up to $94bn – which is where BP comes in.

The Louisiana authorities are banking heavily on BP paying a large share of the costs.
Under a law passed by Congress, 80% of the penalties obtained from BP following the 2010 blowout of its oil well in the Gulf of Mexico are designated for coastal restoration.
The oil company has already made a downpayment of about $1bn for coastal restoration.
After a judge in New Orleans last month found BP had exercised “gross negligence” in the run-up to the disaster, the oil company could now be on the hook for as much as $18bn in penalties under the Clean Water Act. The judge will begin court proceedings on penalties in January.
A separate lawsuit is trying to get oil and gas companies to pay for restoration, because of the damage done by the canals.
Burkett said the plan was different from earlier – failed – restoration efforts because it aims to mimic the way sediment, debris and even trees were carried along by the Mississippi and deposited on the delta, extending land into the Gulf of Mexico.
“What we have learned through time is restoring the natural process is more effective than building concrete dams and dykes,” she said.

 Water from the Gulf of Mexico floods Highway 23 in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, in the aftermath of hurricane Isaac on 31 August 2012.
 Photograph: Sean Gardner/Reuters

This time around, engineers are importing sand to rebuild barrier islands scoured by hurricanes.
At Pelican Island, a 2.5 mile strip in the Barataria Bay, crews used 2.5m cubic yards of sand and silt mined from the Gulf of Mexico to build dunes and marshes, and rolled out protective fences around newly planted grasses.

But it has cost $77m so far to restore Pelican Island, and the coastal restoration authority admits that, even after all this effort, Pelican Island has a limited life-span, just 20 years, before it too is devoured by the sea.
Given the rate of land loss, it’s hard to keep pace.
“Even though a couple of billion dollars sounds like a lot of money we have found it woefully inadequate to do a lot of good here on the coast that we’re looking at,” said Brad Inman, a senior project manager on the restoration project from the Army Corps of Engineers.
It’s also unclear whether re-engineering the coast can ever work – no matter how massive the scale. In research published earlier this year, Richard Condrey, a retired coastal ecologist from Louisiana State University, said this approach to restoring the coast was bound to fail.
It was time to start again – before it’s too late.
“The data doesn’t support that putting sand on a barrier island has impacted the rate of loss,” Condrey said. “We need to recognise that what we are doing is not working. We are not protecting the citizens of Louisiana. We are not protecting the coasts and barrier islands. … We need to stop fooling ourselves.”

Links :


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Lost treasures reclaimed from 2,000-year-old Antikythera shipwreck link

Antikythera (highlighted) which now has a population of only 44, was on one of antiquity's busiest trade routes, and a base for Cilician pirates, some of whom once captured and held the young Julius Caesar for ransom.
He later had them all captured and crucified.

Antikythera island with the Marine GeoGarage (NGA chart)
The new items have indicated the wreck site is much bigger than previously believed,
scattered across 300 meters of seafloor.

From CNN by Lauren Said-Moorhouse

In the azure waters off the rocky coast of Antikythera, a remote island in the Mediterranean with a population of less than 50, an international team of archaeologists has recovered new treasures from one of the most mysterious shipwrecks of all time.

 After spending the last month at the historic wreck site, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) announced that an international team of archaeologists had recovered new items from the Antikythera wreck.
Pictured, Greek technical diver Alexandros Sotiriou discovers an intact "lagynos" ceramic table jug and a bronze rigging ring.

The group of maritime archaeology experts have been at the site since mid-September and armed with the most advanced marine technology available, they have conducted the first-ever scientific excavation of the Antikythera wreck.
Despite facing fierce winds and choppy seas during the 30-day mission, the reclaimed items include tableware, anchors and other maritime components, as well as a giant spear, which they believe once belonged to a life-sized bronze warrior statue.

Sirius, the underwater robot, aka.
Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (Sirius AUV), from the Australian Centre for Field Robotics was used in September 2014 to produce very high resolution 3D digital maps of the Antikythera shipwreck. 

The recovered artifacts have been described as "very promising" by project co-director Theotokis Theodoulou in a press release from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI).
The U.S.-based WHOI worked with Theodoulou and the Hellenic Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities in Greece to lead the expedition.
He added: "We have a lot of work to do at this site to uncover its secrets."

 "Return to Antikythera" project chief diver Philip Short is pictured inspecting the magnificent two-meter-long bronze spear reclaimed from the shipwreck, which archaeologists say was once part of a life-size warrior statue.

World's first computer found at wreck

In 1900, sponge divers from the Greek island of Symi anchored along the eastern coastline of the island while waiting for a ferocious storm to pass.
What they would stumble upon would stun the world.
Underneath the crystalline waters, lay the incredible wreck undiscovered for thousands of years. And as the site was explored over the next year, they would uncover life-size bronze statues and remarkable artifacts.
But it was the 1902 recovery of a clump of calcified stone with mysterious inscriptions that would push the wreck into archaeological lore.

 In 1900, Greek sponge divers inadvertently stumbled upon an incredible ancient shipwreck off the coast of Antikythera.
More intriguing were the heavily corroded bronze fragments -- 82 in total, with the largest pictured -- brought to the surface in 1902.
The find would stun the world when it was revealed to be a mechanical computer from the 1st century BC.

The heavily corroded bronze fragments would turn out to be what has been described as the world's earliest known "computer," designed in the first century BC -- the Antikythera Mechanism.

 "The Antikythera Mechanism is just mind blowing. It's maybe the most important, certainly most surprising, artifact recovered from an archaeology site anywhere," said expedition co-director Brendan Foley.
"Our question is: if this ship is carrying this kind of stuff, what else is still down there? You can't even guess. The Antikythera Mechanism had no precedence. Could there be other things of that sort of culture, and technological and scientific significance still down there?"

Built to track the astronomical calendar and lunar movements, later radiographic image analysis of the mechanism revealed 30 intricate gear wheels.

 At first, the Antikythera Mechanism, as it became known, confounded archaeologists who were unsure if it was an astrolabe or an ancient astronomical clock.
Today, it is widely believed the mechanism was a complex computer tracking the astronomical calendar and lunar movements, with its manufacture dated to around 100 BC.
Radiographic image analysis on the mechanism revealed 30 intricate gear wheels.

Famed underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau visited the site in 1976 to film a documentary and returned from below the surface with treasures galore.
Since then, the site had remained dormant under the aegis of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture for almost 40 years.

 A reconstruction of the device now sits at the Archaeological Museum in Athens. Built out of a thin bronze sheet, the mechanism has the first known set of scientific dials and scales.
Surrounded by Greek inscriptions, the large upper dial follows the Metonic cycle -- a period of 19 years in which there are 235 lunations.
Useful for regulating calendars, there was also a four-year dial for monitoring when the well-loved Panhellenic games -- including the ancient Olympics -- should take place.

 Archaeologists are also translating findings from the reports from 1900 and 1901 operations from Ancient Greek hoping to reveal more clues to the initial find.
Foley said one of the journals revealed there were two main areas where it was reported marble and bronze lay, so technical divers will be carrying metal detectors to aid their search.
He added: "If we get a really big metal detection hit in one localized area then obviously that would be a place to test trench and see what's down there. Maybe there's another mechanism ..."

"The Antikythera shipwreck is maybe the most important, most famous shipwreck from antiquity," Brendan Foley, an archaeologist from WHOI and co-director of the expedition told CNN before the dive began in September.
"We are hardcore scientists and archaeologists. We hate to speak of treasure but in this case, it's actually a treasure ship and there are just no two ways about it."

Shrouded in mystery

Analysis of the reclaimed artifacts has dated the vessel to the first century BC, while a horde of gold coins retrieved from the water suggests the boat's origins lie east, from Asia Minor.
But no one knows for certain how big it is, what it was doing there or why it went down. Yet.

Scientists, technical divers, archaeologists and documentary filmmakers made up the 32-person team returning to the wreck site in September for the first ever scientific excavation.
Three years in the making, the experts hoped to answer some of the enigmatic questions surrounding the ship, including how big it is, why it was there, where it came from and who might have been traveling on it.
Considering all the treasure and female trinkets that have been brought up from the seafloor, one idea is that the ship was transporting a young woman and her dowry but they never made it to their final destination.

Foley said: "This not just an everyday trader. This is probably one of the largest, most expensive ships that was sailing in the first century BC. The 1901 sponge divers reported that the artifacts were spread among an area about 52 meters along the seafloor. And that corresponds nicely with what we've observed in our dives on the site."

Supported by the Hellenic Navy, Foley and his 32-man team have been provided with research vessels capable of raising artifacts weighing up to five tons straight off the seabed.
"You never want to speak about absolutes or guarantees but I've never felt more confident in a shipwreck that there is going to be something interesting on it," Foley said.
"In the 1901 and '76 operations, they were getting gemstones, gold stones and human remains. And human remains almost never come up from ancient shipwrecks. So with modern ancient DNA analysis, there are all kinds of questions that can now be posed if we recover some."

 Greek archaeologist and fellow co-director of the dive, Theotokis Theodoulou inspects the 400-pound lead anchor stock of Antikythera Wreck B, found last year at one end of the debris field during a preparatory dive. The other end of the wreck is signaled over 50 meters away by roof tiles believed to be from the galley structure at the stern of the ship. Based on this evidence, scientists estimate the vessel to be one of the largest ships from antiquity, making it bigger than some of the most colossal boats known from that time -- Caligula's pleasure barges on Italy's Lake Nemi.

With the location at around 55 meters deep, it's not particularly hard to get to.
Foley explained: "This shipwreck is close to the shore. It's only about 70 meters off the cliff face so it makes it very difficult to bring in a big ship to support any kind of robotic systems so we came up with a plan and have been putting it into practice over the last three years -- incrementally training on new technology so that we could get and do very vigorous science.
"At the most basic level, if we can come away from this important shipwreck site with a very, very good map and a much better understanding of the layout of the wreck, from that data we can begin to pose new questions to drive forward the research," explained Foley, who has worked with the Ministry of Culture in Greece for the last decade.

The AUV conducted a high-resolution survey of the wreck site to create precise 3D documentation of the expansive debris field.
Meanwhile, technical divers equipped with metal detectors scanned the seafloor to determine the extent of the wreckage under the sediment before test trench excavations were able to begin.

 Here's some raw diver footage taken at a depth of 45 metres by Phil Short while exploring the Antikythera shipwreck using a closed circuit rebreather.

Underwater "Iron Man"

The team also arrived in Greece with a next-generation diving suit that could revolutionize the future of ocean exploration.
Looking like something straight out of "Iron Man," the Exosuit is an atmospheric diving system, created by Vancover-based Nuytco Research, originally designed for offshore exploration of oil fields.
Repurposed for the expedition, Foley explained it offers the team extensive bottom time at the site.

 WHOI diving safety officer Edward O'Brien "spacewalks" in the next-gen atmospheric "Exosuit," during the 2014 Return to Antikythera project, which ran from September 15 to October 7.
The divers are planning to return to the Antikythera next year to continue excavating the site following a successful first season.

"The system itself for the Exosuit has life support for something like 40 hours if all went to hell. I mean, really, it's when you get tired and sore, and want to have a sandwich and use the toilet, that you come up," he said.

And the best part is the simplicity of the technology, revealed its creator Phil Nuytten.
"You can literally operate the Exosuit after a few hours of training. The majority of the training is spent in emergency drills. But the actual functioning of it is as simple as learning to drive a golf cart," said Nuytten, a pioneer in deep-sea exploratory technology.

 The team used next-generation diving apparatus, the "Exosuit."
It was designed and created by underwater tech pioneer Phil Nuytten of Canada's Nuytco Research.
"You can literally operate Exosuit after a few hours of training. The majority of the training is spent in emergency drills. But the actual functioning of it is as simple as learning to drive a golf cart," said Nuytten.

"The suit is controlled by footpads that can tilt forward, backwards or from side to side."
Aside from Exosuit's ease, Nuytten also highlighted how the suit negates some of the side effects of conventional saturation diving, like decompression sickness and prolonged, unnecessary dive times.
 "In the Exosuit, you jump into it and the compression time is zero. You're down to 1,000ft within 10 minutes and you can spend six to eight hours there and then come back in 10 minutes instead of 10 days."

Highlights of a test dive of the Exosuit, before heading to Antikythera.
Mr Panos Laskaridis of the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation was the diver in the Exosuit for the trial.

But for the dive team, it's the opportunity for exploration that is the biggest pull of Exosuit.
"We figure by the end of the first two days with Exosuit, we'll have more time on the Antikythera shipwreck than any other dive put together that's gone before it," said Foley.

A doomed dowry? 

It's been a mammoth undertaking and with a bill at over €2 million (over $2.5 million), the team was hoping the Mediterranean would yield some of its secrets.
Prior to this scientific dive, the archaeologists had little to go on and were left to come up with theories based on the little historical evidence at hand.

When human remains -- including a skull that was 80% intact -- were recovered in '76, a treasure trove of jewelry, perfume bottles and other female-related trinkets were found close by.
"One of our pet theories is that maybe this ship was carrying a really wealthy woman from Asia Minor, and she was going to be married and this cargo was her dowry. It's impossible to prove but it's a nice romantic notion," said Foley.

With such a long passage of time between when the ship sank and the present day, and so many unanswered questions, the scientists and archaeologists expect to be working on the project for at least the next five years.
And it's a journey Foley is excited to have embarked on.
"I like to think of shipwrecks as books, books in a library. The seafloor is a vast library and with every single shipwreck, there is a book telling us about the past and the artifact that we raise is like a page in that book.
"So if we want to try to recreate the ancient past and figure out who we are, who we came from, why we live in this modern world, then the only way to do that is to look at the physical remains of past cultures."

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